SBS 2008 - server will be offline for 1-2 days... options for workstations?

so we have a SBS 2008 server (physical)

We are soon moving servers to a nearby colo.... hopefully it will be offline <48 hours but worst case if something goes wrong, I think ALL the domain PC's will be useless... The colo offers colo/cloud mesh, so I was thinking maybe I could restore the server from a backup into a VM they provide, and run it from there until the physical server gets there (hopefully only 24/48 hours), then shutdown the VM and power the original machine back on.

I'm curious if there are any problems with this...

A. if we don't make changes to users/config - should it be OK that the real SBS server won't know what happened during the time it was running in a VM?

B. Im sure the windows licenses are tied to the hardware... Is it OK/feasible though to run it in a VM for just a couple days for stopgap measures?   I would hope microsoft allows this sort of thing for these extenuating circumstances

C. If I can't do this - is there a way to "get by" for a few days on the other PC's?  e.g. I think if there is a problem with domain server you can unplug PC's from network, login, and then plug back into network... is that right?  And if so, could I also log in as domain administrator?  Or only if I had logged in as domain admin before the SBS was down?  And if I can, then could I temporarily change the DNS on the PC to a public DNS so it could atleast function at a basic level until SBS is back online?

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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
You can log on to workstation as any domain user and administrator ONLY if this account was log on before when computer had connection to DC and local profile was created.

You'll be OK with login to workstation without DC but You'll lose all share access and network printers if they was shared from server, also I asume that since there is SBS then you have Exchange on it, If yes then all people will be cut off from their emails.

Making VM from DC is not good idea for domain controller especially if you going to use some converter from Physical to Virtual drive. Also if you duplicate DC, then after old DC will be connected to network all people will lose trust to domain since token will be different.
Hi Xetroximyn,

If you are running Exchange on the SBS 2008 Server, then one problem might be that the VM will be collecting emails (in and out and intra server) through the period, so you would lose all that if you replaced the VM with the physical SBS 2008 server.

Your network setup?
Where is your DHCP server?
Make sure the SBS is not also the DHCP, without which your workstations will be dead in the network pond unable to get IPs.
It is eefibatelydefinately the DNS server, without which the workstations will not be able to resolve any name if network ip is allocated.
So outside the prior comments covering the multiple issues, obce the SBS is removed from the network, you have to enable DHCP on the router and point/publish a DNS server opendns, or the isp's DNS servers......

Not quite sure whart your intended plan, or on what do your workstations rely to perform their work.
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XetroximynAuthor Commented:
Thanks!  So we don't use exchange anymore - we use google mail.  This server is EOL in next year anyway... it's mostly a glorified file and print server.  (Most our PC's are ubuntu, and many of our windows PC's are not on the domain anyway... long story)

Sounds like the VM thing is not a good idea... I don't want to mess around with trust tokens and delicate fragile thing that SBS seems to be (in my limited experience... I am more linux than windows guy)

So... I guess that's good to know - we can log on if the server is offline... so then I guess I need to temporarily manually change DNS to a public DNS?  Or can I just have the public set as secondary beforehand?  (If the I do the secondary thing though... I think there is something like once it switches to secondary it does not even try the primary anymore unless secondary fails... so in that case, how do I force the PC's back to primary (i.e. the SBS server) DNS when it's back online?
XetroximynAuthor Commented:
Just saw your comment arnold - thanks!  I feel silly I didn't even think I could just use the firewall to DHCP out a different primairy DNS for the meantime.... quick question though... I think our leases are pretty long... will a PC keep it's lease through a reboot even if the DHCP server is missing?  Or will it check after a reboot and notice "my DHCP server is missing, I should invalidate my lease and ask for another DHCP lease?

To explain the situation a bit more, we are a call center.  The PC's that are on the domain are backoffice PC's... (HR, Project Mangement, etc) it's not great they will lose share and print access, etc But in the meantime I just want them to be able to use thier PC's to send emails, and access a cloud server (via SSH, HTTPS and SFTP) that we will be using for production.  Our production environment runs on linux, and all our production PC's are NOT on the domain, so should be unaffected.
Yes, the workstations will keep the IP until reboot at which point it will check with the DHCP server on whether it can keep using the same one, or the DHCP will offer a new one.

The DNS servers to which the workstations are pointed to should be able to resolve the means by which your users access the web portal.

The email, do you use SBS exchange or a different email service provider? The answer to this will be whether the users can continue sending/receiving emails while the SBS is down.
Depending on your subs dhcp configuration, to avoid IP conflicts in the interim, you could define a different set of IPs to be allocated by your fw/router DHCP compared to the SBS.
I.e. Let's say your scope is
Your SBS currently allocates
Configuring your FW/router DHCP to distribute IPs 192.168.151-250  will allow the existing system that did not reboot to retain their IPs without a possible conflict that a system will be allocated an IP by the fw/router DHCP that is already in use on the network.

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Hi Xetroximyn,

How are you making the files (SBS acting as a file and print server) available while SBS is not available?

You could just copy to a USB drive and attach to your router, or to a PC (Ubuntu would be good).  You would have to consider permissions and how users would 'find' the new fileserver location.

Also what about printers?  If you have them hanging off SBS then maybe have them all go direct?

Even better, maybe now is a good time to ditch Windows, and move to a pure Linux network, with a few Windows PCs if absolutely required?  Setup Samba and be done with it?

XetroximynAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the comments everyone! Very helpful. Lots of good ideas and thought provoking stuff here :-) . makes me feel better that I can do this without it being a complete disaster...

Response to a few questions/comments in no particular order...

Yes - I personally want to ditch Windows - I'm better with linux, and we don't use many windows services, and the majority of our PC's are non-domain PC's... it seems to add more complexity to my network than is worth it.  There is a bit too much on the SBS right now in terms of file shars, to get this done before the move, but it's planned as one of the first projects after the move. (I know - better planning would have done this in reverse order... unfortunately I'm subject to wildly changing winds of my boss, lol)

For files on SBS, there are only a few files that are critical for the few days or a week (hopefully worst case) the SBS is down) and I plan to put those on google drive (We have Google Apps for email/drive/etc).  

As for printers we are planning to try to go as "paperless" as possible before the move, but what little needs to be printed, will have to either setup direct access for a few PC's or setup a temporary workstation to share the printer.  

Yea - I plan to actually have the firewall assign a completely different subnet.  192.168.1.x is the subnet the servers are on, and I plan to move that to the colo.  At the main site 192.168.31.x, 192.168.32.x, 33.x, 34.x, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 already exist... The SBS is currently DHCP for 192.168.1.x phsycial network, but once it's moved I will make the firewall DHCP and set it to use 192.168.41.x or something... this of course leaves printers and scanners and such that are hardcoded to 192.168.1.x that will have to be handled manually, but that's not a "huge" concern for us at this time (luckily we are going paperless more and more, and it's a slow time for us).  

Having completely different subnet also makes it easier (in my mind anyway) to set up the phase 2's for the VPN's... I like nice clean /24 (or /16) subnets.  

Main thing I need to work EVERY DAY is all the "production related" stuff which is not on the domain, and some of the backoffice PC's that mostly just need email (via google) and to be able to access the temporary SaaS (provided by company who makes the call center software we run) we are using as a stopgap while we move our production linux servers as well.
Good advice offered.
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